After a long Hollywood career, Robert Hanley shares a lifetime of insights in Fairfield
Robert Hanley’s acting career has made him a vaguely familiar face for anyone who consumed enough television and movie fare in the 1970s and into the ‘90s.
Those years in Hollywood — whether trying out for a part at Warner Hollywood Studios or looking for a lost credit card at a neighborhood gas station — informed Hanley about the everyday world the rest of us inhabit. Enough so, in fact, that he has written a pithy little book filled with those life lessons.
The actor, now in his 70s, is signing copies of his lovingly produced “Do You See What I See? Discovering the Obvious” noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 at the Fairfield University Downtown Bookstore, 1499 Post Road, Fairfield.
Hanley is originally from the Bronx and lives in Los Angeles, but has enough family in Fairfield to keep him visiting the area for over four decades.
Hollywood is filled with a lot of good people, and you don’t hear about them, or you hear about them infrequently, and that’s how the Entertainment Fellowship came about,” he says, referring to an organization he founded that allowed people in the entertainment industry to recognize Judeo-Christian principles and apply them to their careers.
Turned off by much of the tone and tenor of what he’s seen aroud him, Hanley has been grounded in his own Christian faith.
“I go to church and it’s like an oil change for me. It’s been very good for having a road to go down, a road map for the person I want to be,” says Hanley.
The actor, who at times shunned roles with profanity or nudity, has given voice to others in Hollywood who have taken a stand against vulgarity in film and television. That stance has cost him good roles, including one that would have paired him with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino (that anecdote appears early in the book).
By the time he reached his 40s, Hanley began to be more choosy about his roles and was more interested in doing “quality work” than being a “big star.”
But he has also kept busy doing standup, as “Broadway Bob” — a clip of that phase appears on robert-hanley.com. He’s also run an acting studio, and performed as a network television game-show host and as a singer backed by his own 17-piece orchestra. Now he’s a book author.
“It took years,” says Hanley, who found his own artist to illustrate his anecdote and stories which uncover universal truths. Even in that process holds a life lesson.
A dozen Cal State art students applied for the job. They showed up with trite cover concepts — the Hollywood sign or the comedy-and-tragedy masks — and obviously hadn’t read the book. They read the cover flap, and took a stab at a show-biz theme.
“It was unbelievable, and I said to them, if you’re going out into the work world, working as a journalist or as an artist, you need to know the product,” Hanley recalls.
"There’s a lot of wisdom here in these little stories. I am a better man for having read this book," wrote Charles Champlin, the Los Angeles Times’ arts editor emeritus.